A key knowledge translation strategy used within the Surgical Oncology Program are communities of practice or COPs. A community of practice consists of a group of people who share a common concern, set of problems or passion about a topic, that expand their knowledge and expertise in their area of interest through ongoing interaction with each other.
How to Create a Community of Practice
Establishing a community of practice involves leadership, determination and drive to achieve common goals and objectives. When establishing a COP, the purpose behind it needs to be kept in mind.
- A leader(s) facilitates the group to reach consensus on the focus of the COP, how it will operate and who should participate.
- The focus may be colorectal cancer, surgical technology or any other topic of interest.
- Participation in the COP is typically voluntary.
- Participants include those interested in the subject and those who will contribute to completing the priorities.
- The COP meets regularly to discuss priority topics.
The Role of a Community of Practice Member
Specific roles and responsibilities of a member may include:
- participation in the development of provincial and/or regional priorities and goals for the COP
- sharing of best practices and barriers to quality improvement with other COP members
- developing and maintaining working relationships with relevant stakeholders
- promoting or leading the implementation of quality improvement initiatives
- participation in regional and/or provincial teleconferences/web conferences/in-person meetings
It is important to note that the expectations of members should be adapted to meet the needs of each specific COP.
How the Surgical Oncology Program Supports Community Practices
The Surgical Oncology Program uses COPs composed of leaders from each region to move quality initiatives forward. Provincewide communities of practice have been established for several disease sites, with the purpose of identifying gaps in cancer care and developing quality improvement initiatives to address these gaps.
Regional surgical oncology leads and regional pathology leads nominated physician leaders (champions) such that each region (14) has a surgery, and a pathology, champion which are brought together to discuss various quality topics related to their respective expertise – prostate or colorectal cancer.
COP members (champions) participate in provincial web-conferences, in-person meetings and opinion leader site visits, to work towards achieving their identified goals and objectives.
Members are also expected to develop COPs within their own regions for their respective disease site that encompasses multiple physician disciplines and hospitals from within the region.
Key Elements for Engaging Community of Practice Members
The key elements for engaging members include:
- Leadership: A leader or leaders who actively work to engage a larger community and guide members.
- Consensus Building and Seeking Input: Experience has shown that engaging all of the appropriate disciplines and relevant stakeholders early in the process will aid in the success of implementing the end product.
- Communication: Keeping open and regular communication with members (e.g., meetings, emails and newsletters) may assist in building the COP’s identity.
- Self-Audit through Data Collection: When the COP is focused on a quality initiative, members have stated that auditing the initiative and providing individual feedback to members in a productive and non-threatening manner is very effective at improving quality.
The Surgical Oncology Program has successfully employed several strategies at a provincial level to engage members of the colorectal cancer and prostate cancer community of practices:
- Provincial Workshops: In-person workshops and web-conferences provide an opportunity for multiple disciplines from across the province to come together and discuss quality improvement initiatives, identify gaps in care and determine goals for the COP.
- List Serv Online Discussion Forum: List Servs provide a multidisciplinary online discussion platform for physicians/COP members to improve their knowledge and management of cancer.
- Newsletters: Newsletters keep COP members informed of quality improvement initiatives occurring in the province.
- Data Distribution: Data is an important driver of quality improvement, and the development and reporting of quality indicators has proven to be a successful knowledge transfer strategy.
- Educational Slide Decks: Presentations on quality initiatives can be used at regional educational rounds or meetings. Member engagement strategies may vary depending on the goals, structure and size of the COP.
Have Questions? Email Us
To enquire further about community of practices with the Surgical Oncology Program, or to share a unique solution or best practice from your region, please email SOPinfo@cancercare.on.ca.